Asylum claimant number hits 11-year peak as proportion of UK population


The number of people claiming asylum in the UK as a proportion of the population has reached its highest level for 11 years, official data shows.

Claims from 38,900 main applicants and dependants such as children were recorded in 2015 - equivalent to 107 every day.

This means Britain registered 597 asylum seekers per million residents - the highest rate since 2004, when it stood at 680 per million.

The findings emerged in Press Association analysis of Home Office data which provides a comprehensive insight into the impact of the international migration crisis on asylum claims in Europe for the whole of last year.

It also emerged that:

:: The UK has fallen steadily down the ranks of EU countries in terms of applications per million of population in recent years, to 17th out of 28.

:: Around one in 30 (3.2%) of an estimated 1.2 million people who sought asylum in the 28 member states lodged their claim in Britain.

:: The percentage of asylum seekers received by the UK was the ninth highest in the EU.

:: Germany received by far the highest share, with 35%.

:: Sweden and Hungary had the highest number of applicants as a proportion of population, with 16,620 and 16,602 per million respectively.

The figures, which include estimates for some countries for the last three months of last year, were included in immigration data released by the Government last week.

Asylum claims from main applicants jumped by 29% in the UK last year, with 32,414 - which is also the highest number since 2004.

It was also revealed earlier this week that the number of lone children applying for international protection passed 1,000 in a quarter for the first time in seven years.

Last month, the borders watchdog suggested that the asylum system could struggle to cope if recent surges in claims continue.

Meanwhile, campaign groups have called for Britain to take in more refugees after large numbers fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa poured into Europe.

The Government last year opted out of plans to relocate 160,000 people from Italy, Hungary and Greece.

The UK has committed to committed to taking in 20,000 Syrian refugees from camps bordering the country and allocated more than £1 billion in aid.

Dr Lisa Doyle, of the Refugee Council, said: "Given the world is in the grip of one of the worst refugee crises in history, the truth is that comparatively fewer people get as far as Britain in their search for safety.

"Britain received just 3% of all asylum claims made in the EU last year.

"Poor countries continue to host the vast majority of the world's refugees.

"As a global leader, the Prime Minister must step forward and ensure we do our bit to help offer safe haven to some more of the desperate people forced to flee bloody conflicts and brutal regimes.

"Lives depend on us living up to our proud tradition of protecting refugees."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The United Kingdom has a long and proud history of offering sanctuary to those who genuinely need our protection.

"All claims for asylum are considered on their individual merits, and where people establish a genuine need for protection from persecution, refuge will be granted.

"However, if people do not need our protection they are expected to leave the UK and we may remove them if they do not go voluntarily."